CNN Showbiz

Filipino animators in 'toon' with the times

From Manila Bureau Chief Maria Ressa

October 14, 1995
Web posted at 1:55 p.m. EDT

MANILA, Philippines (CNN) -- "The Flintstones Christmas Carol", an animated film nominated for the Emmys, takes place in Bedrock but is made in the Philippines. Scooby

Major studios like Disney, Marvel, Warner Brothers and Hanna Barbera have offices in the Philippines. In fact, industry estimates say about 90 percent of American television cartoons are now produced in Asia. Of that, more and more are bringing their business to the Philippines.

Fil-Cartoons is a wholly owned subsidiary of Hanna Barbera, a subsidiary of Turner Broadcasting, and employs nearly 650 people in Manila. Filipino artists and technicians draw, paint and film up to 25,000 sketches, mainly by hand, for every 30-minute episode.

"Because of the Western influence the Philippines has had for so many decades, and when you're doing a cartoon that has a gag that has Western humor, if your animators understand that, they will be able to animate it that much better for you. And they do understand Western humor and they do get the gag," said Bill Dennis of Fil-Cartoons. Artist

A more practical reason is the cost. A 30-minute cartoon costs about $130,000 to produce in the Philippines, compared to at least $500,000 in the United States. Philippine studios tend to be cheaper than most of their Asian competitors.

But U.S. companies aren't the only ones that benefit. Filipino animators earn an average of $1,200 (U.S.) a month in a country where the annual per capita income is only $800.

In the past, development of the cartoon was done in the States, but now, studios here have begun developing and producing their own cartoons. Swamp

The initial result? "Swamp'n'Tad" - a seven-minute cartoon about two frogs from another planet stranded on earth. It's slated to be shown on the Turner Cartoon Network later this year

"We just had the opportunity to get it done in film and for me that's the most exciting part. I get to see my own creation on film," said "Swamp'n'Tad" director Achiu So. ( 121K AIFF sound or 120K WAV sound)

Many believe there is no shortage of talent in the Philippines and that enthusiasm may soon make Manila the cartoon capital of the world.

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